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Was Jay-Z’s 4:44 Tour a Complete Flop?

Jay Z, master MC and 21-time Grammy award winner, has had an incredible year in music. From shifting America’s perception of financial literacy, to being nominated for 8 Grammy’s in 2018. In fact, one would say Jay-Z is running the industry next to his wife, Beyoncé. However, when analyzing the rap mogul’s success this year, one must ask—did this immense success translate in Jay-Z’s North American 4:44 tour?

The 4:44 tour ran through 32 dates across North America with at least $24.3 million grossed on the headline shows—according to Complex. Reports had emerged suggesting that the mogul’s tour was not selling tickets and was not doing too well. There were several reports that tickets were being sold for as low $6 after originally being on sale for almost 30 times higher in some locations. After researching I found arguments suggesting that low ticket prices were part of a strategy to out price ticket brokers and give fans more affordable ticket pricing. This strategy might have been successful since the 4:44 tour is now being reported as Jay-Z’s highest grossing solo tour ever.

The tour has concluded with its final stop in Inglewood, CA—generating approximately $44,698,354 in revenue during the tour’s 32 dates. Within that time, 425,441 tickets were sold in that span roughly grossing $1,396,823 per show. This is despite several show cancellations. Although this is very impressive, the question becomes are these figures good enough? Of course, generating revenue is great, but how does this revenue compare to the rest of the industry? I decided to take a look at data from Pollstar and Billboard to help form a conclusion.

The results of the analysis were extremely interesting. When comparing Jay-Z’s 4:44 tour with his wife Beyoncé’s formation tour in North America, there were huge differences. Beyoncé generated $96 million with 832,769 tickets sold with only 19 shows. That averages to about $5.1 million dollars a show! That’s about $4 million more per show than Jay-Z. Some may consider Beyoncé’s tour an anomaly, so I compared Jay-Z to other performers.

When comparing Jay-Z to the highest grossing worldwide tours in 2017, he falls far below the lowest ranked member of the list Ariana Grande. She is ranked in 20th place generating $65 million dollars for her tour. Although this is alarming to note, I explored comparing Jay-Z to other rappers to determine how significant the difference was. Drake was a worthy comparison.

Drake’s Summer Sixteen tour in 2016 had approximately 54 shows and generated $85 million dollars in revenue. This global tour averaged about $1.57 million dollars per show. This average revenue per show was 36% higher than Jay-Z’s 4:44 tour. However, Drake’s Summer Sixteen tour was the Highest Grossing Tour in Hip Hop History and that fact must be noted.

It appears that Jay-Z’s tour numbers are not actually bad when comparing them to the rest of the industry, despite other artist tours—U2—grossing $316 million. When factoring tour success from other artists in the industry, the number of concerts held is a huge factor. Jay-Z held considerably fewer concert dates than Drake in 2016. Throughout this analysis a much larger issue became clear.

The question was no longer if Jay-Z was successful or not with his 4:44 tour, but why was there such a large gap between the 4:44 tour and other tours from U2, Guns N Roses, and Coldplay. The groups U2, Guns N Roses, and Coldplay averaged $316 million, $292.5 million, and $238 million respectively, with an average show of $8 million, $4 million, and $6 million. That is an extremely large difference. Instead of the industry quickly presenting Jay-Z’s 4:44 tour as a failure, more credit should be given to the mogul on his successes.

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Written By

Ammon Lyle is a producer, screenwriter and entertainment journalist specializing in Music, Television and Film. He works at The Walt Disney Company in Los Angeles California in Talent Contracts and Royalties. He analyzes backend business deals held between Disney and writers, directors, producers, composers and actors and helps distributes their royalties to them. Ammon can be found on Instagram and Twitter at @AmmonLyle or via email at ammonlyle@gmail.com

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